Survey Finds U.S. Musicians Experience Lower Incomes, Higher Rates Of Sexual Harassment

A recently-released survey of more than 1,200 musicians in the United States, found that musicians in the U.S. often struggle with low incomes, discrimination, harassment and mental health issues. The study was conducted by the Music Industry Research Association (MIRA) and Princeton University Survey Research Center, in partnership with MusiCares.

According to the study, the median musician in the U.S. earns between $20,000 and $25,000 per year, and 61 percent of musicians in the study said their music-related income is not sufficient to meet their living expenses. The most common source of music-related income is live performance, followed by giving music lessons and performing in a church choir or other religious service.

Females made up nearly one-third of the musicians polled; 72 percent of the female musicians reported they have been discriminated against because of their gender, while 67 percent of the females polled reported they have been the victims of sexual harassment. These figures stand much higher than the corresponding figures for U.S. women in general, where 28 percent report they have been discriminated against on the basis of gender, while 42 percent of U.S. women in general report they have experienced sexual harassment.

Meanwhile, 63 percent of musicians of color say they faced racial discrimination, as compared to 36 percent of non-white, self-employed workers nationwide.

The study also found many musicians struggle with mental health issues, with half of musicians reporting they had been “feeling down, depressed or hopeless at least several days in the last two weeks,” as compared with less than a quarter of the adult population as a whole.

When compared to the general U.S. adult population, musicians are five times more likely to have used cocaine in the past month, 6.5 times more likely to have used ecstasy, 13.5 times more likely to have used LSD, 2.8 times more likely to have used heroin or opium, and 3.5 times more likely to have used meth. Musicians are about twice as likely to drink alcohol frequently (four or more times per
week) than the population as a whole: 31 percent versus 16 percent.


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Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at

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